ImpactAlpha, October 5 — CrossBoundary Access has raised $35 million from the African Development Bank, Microsoft, Bank of America and other investors to deploy solar mini-grids and provide clean, reliable, low-cost electricity to rural households and businesses in Africa.
Through a blended finance model that combines equity, debt and concessionary capital, the CrossBoundary Group affiliate is looking to deploy $150 million to provide clean energy to a million people in the next three years.
In Nigeria, where nearly half of the population lacks clean energy access, CrossBoundary has committed up to $10 million for a partnership with Mobile Power to build local battery-swapping hubs close to customers. The hubs will enable CrossBoundary to set up mini-grid sites faster and more cheaply and could serve 300,000 people.
They are expected to create thousands of local jobs, CrossBoundary’s Lynne Wesonga told ImpactAlpha, and eliminate roughly 160,000 tons of carbon emissions.
Mobile Power’s pay-per-use batteries enable rural Africans to access clean power at no up-front cost. Smaller batteries are used for phone charging, lighting and other small appliances, while larger batteries can power vehicles, businesses and larger appliances.
Mobile Power’s hubs, which rent and swap the batteries, are solar-powered and operated by local agents.
“Poles and wires are the best way to get large amounts of power to big energy consumers,” said Cross Boundary’s Gabriel Davies. “But innovations like Mobile Power’s battery swapping tech allow us to match distribution capex with customer needs.”